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Thread: Accuracy load with Lee .690 round ball

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy
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    Accuracy load with Lee .690 round ball

    I got a pleasant surprise yesterday shooting the Lee .690 RB (mine are more like .685 as cast from range scrap, and 485 grains.) I found that lower velocity loads in the CB3118-12AR (Claybuster 12C1 equivalent) gave great accuracy out of my NEF Tracker II (aka "my 5 pound elephant gun") with iron sights. At 50 yards:
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    Now, that may not look terribly impressive, but it's a 10 shot group, and those are all of the rounds I put on paper---no cherry-picking here. No doubt, others may claim to shoot cloverleaf groups at 200 yards all day long with nothing but a bead sight, but this is a great result for me, with this gun, with not-so-good semi-buckhorn sights. Shot #7 was the flyer in the group, and it clearly sounded off/hollow; probably a wad failure, as I did find a couple cocked sideways downrange. Most of the wads held up pretty well, but that probably tells you that we're right on the edge of what this wad can support.
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    The load is listed on the card in the pic, but in case it's hard to read, it was 16.5 grains of e3 in a Federal Tactical Slug hull (plastic base, range pick-up) with a Cheddite primer. Under the ball was a single 16 gauge 0.135" hard card. So, this is a simple, cheap, easy load that got me good accuracy and great consistency (though with an occasional blown out wad.) Didn't have my chrono on hand yesterday, but twin loads (shot) run around 1150 fps, so still pretty potent for this little gun.
    There was a little vertical stringing, which was at least partly the result of the sights, which are impossible to level, but I still had no problem hitting the 5" head and heart of the Maxi-Mo target at 100 meters, which most guys at our club can't hit with iron sights on a rifle.
    I've previously reported great success with this wad for slug loads, but it continues to impress with the RBs, too. Give it a try if you get the chance.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master Maven's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    As I shoot a 20ga. flintlock NW Trade Gun with no rear sight, that is impressive FT!

  3. #3
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Looks good to me!

    You might try using two nitro card wads under the ball or add a small scoop of COW on top of the nitro card wad then the ball. Both should provide better support for the RB and possibly help reduce blown gas seals.

    I've found in the past that when the cushion leg distorts around a RB gas seals distort and tend to blow. That likely depends on the wad as well and I have no experience with the CB3118-12AR but some extra support can't hurt and may improve things even more.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Longbow

  4. #4
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    That certainly sounds like something to try, Longbow, and I"ll try a few enhancements in the near future. But what I really like about this particular wad is that the thickness of the petals seems just about right mated with all my Lee molds. My .690 RB, 7/8 oz and 1 oz slugs all cast very near .685 with the alloy I typically use, and these all shoot best with this one wad out of both of my rifled slug guns. Of course, the Ultra Slug Hunter and the Tracker II are supposed to be the same internally, but it doesn't always work out that way.
    This wad also has a reasonably stiff cushion section, but it does seem that pushing it any harder (as I've done in the past) can overload it. So, I've found, quite by accident, a nice compromise with just a few simple parts.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maven View Post
    As I shoot a 20ga. flintlock NW Trade Gun with no rear sight, that is impressive FT!
    Thanks, Maven---it's amazing what a little rifling can do for you! I've done a fair amount of muzzle loading, and I can't even get this level of accuracy out of my black powder rifles with patched round balls, not consistently anyway. A BP buddy of mine has a 20 gauge smooth bore like yours, and he manages to do OK under the circumstances, but it's a challenge---especially as you stretch out the range. Another shooting buddy has a Brown Bess repro that he brought out one day, and none of us could even hit the target stand at 50 yards shooting RBs out of that thing.

    I should note that this load was roll crimped with a clear overshot disc; those things always seem to work really well for me, but I may try a direct comparison with a fold crimp. The stack height on these is just right, so should work either way. I rolled these because the hulls were originally roll crimped from the Federal factory, and that was just a little easier.

  6. #6
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    GregLaROCHE's Avatar
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    I use COW all the, as most other people do over here.

  7. #7
    Boolit Grand Master

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    I may have to try those wads if they work that well with the 0.690" RB's and Lee slugs.

    So far I have had very good results with smoothbore using 0.662" RB's cloth patched into wads in the hull, 0.678" RB's inside plastic wads with appropriate bore fit and 0.735" RB's (actually cast about 0.738") over a hard card wad column. 0.690" RB's have been a failure for me in any wads I have tried to date. Most wads have petals that are too thick so they pinch and shear. The couple of wads I fond that gave decent fit had thin petals but they sheared too!

    Something i have not tried yet but have read works is cloth patching 0.690" RB's over a hard card wad column. I have checked fit to bore with 0.011" cloth patch and 0.715" RB's which gives a good firm push through the bore and two patches does the same with 0.690" RB's. I would have thought the cloth patch would strip off the ball leaving the hull or passing through the forcing cone but posters say it works.

    Anyway, I digress a bit. The 0.690" RB is a good weight and was my first 12 ga. RB mould in a used Lyman but I have never gotten it to shoot well. I will have to try the CB3118-12AR wads... and for my Lee 1 oz. and 7/8 oz. slugs. The Lee slugs I have had reasonable success with.

    Longbow

  8. #8
    Boolit Master Maven's Avatar
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    For Full Tang: 50 yd. from a restClick image for larger version. 

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  9. #9
    Boolit Master

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    That is about the best I can get from my .69 cal smooth bore Charleville musket at 35 yards. I would be thrilled with that at 50 yards! I need to get closer to the deer than you do......

  10. #10
    Boolit Bub
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    I had a pretty large supply of .690 and .662 round balls, so decided to load some into shotshells just because. Both shoot pretty darn well in my 870 with IC choke. The .690 seems a little more accurate, but considering what they are being shot out of it's not a big deal.
    I took stadard 1 1/4 oz shot recipes and just used the rb's in place of shot.

  11. #11
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    My standard load for .662 RB's are 18 gr of Green Dot WAA12 clone wad 1/4 felt wad in the bottom of the shot cup and fold crimp. This si the only round ball load I have ever used because it worked perfectly the very first time.

    It measures .627 on the outside of the wad so it works well in "normal" smoothbore barrels. I did find that it didn't work well in my Back Bored Vang Comped Barrels as they are .745 before choking down to .730 at the muzzle so the "fit" just isn't there.

    The felt wad helps immensely. The last 3 pics show how I recondition those Excellent Federal Blue Lo Recoil Hulls. You get a fresh Roll Crimp just like on a new hull every time.

    You just push the hull onto the spud while it is rotating with the hot air blowing onto it. Takes about 5-10 seconds each.

    Hope this helps.

    Randy
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    "It's not how well you do what you know how to do,,,It's how well you do what you DON'T know how to do!"
    www.buchananprecisionmachine.com

  12. #12
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Randy... take some credit for the "spud" idea!

    I made one and call it my Randy Mandrel!

    I made a hull reconditioning "spud" like BPI's Spin Doctor but didn't like it because it flares the hull mouth. The Randy Mandrel reconditions and doesn't flare the hull mouth.

    I converted my Spin Doctor clones to Randy Mandrels!

    I also made one for another Cast Boolits member and sent it to him.

    So, Randy Mandrel it is and yes it works!

    Thank you for sharing Randy!

    Longbow

  13. #13
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    You're welcome!

    Randy Mandrel.
    "It's not how well you do what you know how to do,,,It's how well you do what you DON'T know how to do!"
    www.buchananprecisionmachine.com

  14. #14
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    Impressive results, Randy! It looks a lot more refined than the Spin Doctor, and the heat gun seems to really add to the effectiveness. I use an improvised drill thingy which started life as a grinding stone, and it works, but it's not smooth and it takes a while to generate its own heat. Have you tried using the Randy Mandrel without any spin, just the heat? I'm curious about whether just a heated chunk of metal would do the job without spinning.

  15. #15
    Boolit Grand Master

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    I have used my Randy Mandrel both ways and yes it works. I have a small lathe so took to using it like the Spin Doctor and just generating its own heast through friction and that works with Federal Field hulls..

    Results likely depend on the hulls being reconditioned to a certain extent and without the heat gun I found that I had to go a little slower or some hulls cracked or split but then I use my hulls too many times too.

    Longbow

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by FullTang View Post
    Impressive results, Randy! It looks a lot more refined than the Spin Doctor, and the heat gun seems to really add to the effectiveness. I use an improvised drill thingy which started life as a grinding stone, and it works, but it's not smooth and it takes a while to generate its own heat. Have you tried using the Randy Mandrel without any spin, just the heat? I'm curious about whether just a heated chunk of metal would do the job without spinning.
    You have to spin it to distribute the heat evenly around the mouth of the hull. All you do is put the mouth of the hull on the mandrel and then push it on as it heats up. The Hull turns with the Mandrel!!! You don't want to get it too hot as the hull will melt. The more you do the less heat you need to apply to each hull as the mandrel gets hot and transfers to the hull. Also you need to wear a glove of some type on your hand as the hulls get hot too.

    The mandrel is made from a piece of 3/4" Aluminum Rod. The taper doesn't matter, it's just got to be small enough to fit into the hull.. The end that goes in your drill motor is 1/4" to 1/2" depending on your drill motor's chuck.

    Hope this helps some.

    These Federal Slug and Buckshot Hulls are too nice to leave at the range. When I go to Front Sight for a Shotgun Class I usually come back with a couple of Walmart bags full of them. I also use a $10 Harbor Freight "Grabber Tool" so I don't have to bend over to pick them up?

    Randy
    Last edited by W.R.Buchanan; 10-02-2022 at 05:35 PM.
    "It's not how well you do what you know how to do,,,It's how well you do what you DON'T know how to do!"
    www.buchananprecisionmachine.com

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by W.R.Buchanan View Post
    My standard load for .662 RB's are 18 gr of Green Dot WAA12 clone wad 1/4 felt wad in the bottom of the shot cup and fold crimp. This si the only round ball load I have ever used because it worked perfectly the very first time.

    It measures .627 on the outside of the wad
    Randy
    Confused reading hope it's a TYPO

  18. #18
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by W.R.Buchanan View Post
    You have to spin it to distribute the heat evenly around the mouth of the hull. All you do is put the mouth of the hull on the mandrel and then push it on as it heats up. The Hull turns with the Mandrel!!! You don't want to get it too hot as the hull will melt.
    OK---the reason I asked is that I wonder if it might be possible to re-purpose something heated (even thermostatically controlled) like a curling iron to do this with a bit less manipulation. Pop a hull onto the heated mandrel with no rotation, and it straightens itself out. It sounds like your mandrel isn't spinning inside the hull at all, just spinning with it, so the spinning is only needed to distribute the heat from the heat gun. I was wondering how you had enough hands to do this, but mystery solved!

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geezer in NH View Post
    Confused reading hope it's a TYPO
    Sorry about that typo. .662 round ball. Measures .727 on the outside of the wad with the ball in place.

    Randy
    "It's not how well you do what you know how to do,,,It's how well you do what you DON'T know how to do!"
    www.buchananprecisionmachine.com

  20. #20
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    Thanks make sense to me now.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check